I did not live through the dark days of McCarthyism when there was a communist behind every bush, blacklists controlled who worked in Hollywood, liberal college professors had trouble obtaining tenure or getting published and conformity was forced down everyone’s throats in the name of “social norms,” but I guarantee you that I know what it feels like. Social scientists will look back at the years of the Obama Administration as the pinnacle of the dark years dominated by the censorship of the “Politically Correct.”
Today it is “evil” to poke even good-natured fun at anyone unless they are a rich, fat, gun-toting, Southern white Christian male. All of those categories are fair game and there is virtually no repercussion for anything public figures or the press say about folks in any or all of those categories. Say a disparaging word about any other group and the forces of the Politically Correct will rise against you simultaneously condemning your actions. You actually don’t even have to say a disparaging word, if ANY potential recipient of your words has their feelings hurt or is in any way offended by your words then you will be castigated. It doesn’t matter whether their feeling of insult is unreasonable, irrational or insane, you will be condemned for your words or actions.
America, like virtually every other place in the world, had large periods of time in which the color of a person’s skin directly and materially impacted their ability to succeed and function in society. Though never universal, there were many, many circumstances in which people of color were mistreated and subject to overt discrimination and bigotry. America was slow to wake up from the mindset of slavery and there was a huge racial divide in this country that was brought into mainstream by activists like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. who valiantly fought, and died, for equal treatment of all races.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. (I had a dream)
Equality of opportunity was the rallying cry of all of the great leaders of the civil rights era who sought nothing more than to be treated the same as everyone else.
Some where along the way the quest for equal treatment was hijacked by programs that wrongfully substituted one racial prejudice for another. Instead of levelling the playing field, the decision was evidently made to tilt the playing field once again, just in a different direction this time. Instead of treating each other equally and ignoring race as a factor in job hiring and advancement, higher education admissions, or awarding contracts American government bureaucracies created “affirmative action programs” (ironically call “positive discrimination” in the UK) where certain races are given preferential treatment over other races. To measure the success of these affirmative action programs the concept of “diversity” was turned from a neutral descriptor to a utopian goal to be reached at all costs.
Affirmative Action and measured diversity actually had the opposite effect from what was intended by the founders of the civil rights movement. Instead of turning race into a non-factor, affirmative action and diversity programs made a person’s race the center-piece for the treatment of that individual. Whereas striving for equal treatment would only focus on race to the extent that is was being improperly used as an impediment (and would hopefully fade away into merely a sad historical footnote), striving for “diversity” meant that a person’s race became key to how they were treated. This focus on “diversity” suddenly meant that how you defined yourself and your own race would have a tremendous impact on your future. Understand, there is no federal definition of who belongs to what race, it is completely based upon self-identification. Despite the fact that I am so white that I almost completely lack skin pigment, there is nothing that anyone could do to stop me from self-identifying as black, asian or latino. With our world becoming ever more intertwined, these racial “distinctions” become more non-sensical every day.
Edmund Standing has written expansively about this twisted perspective:
White liberals, despite viewing themselves as intelligent and open-minded, are actually some of the most illiberal and narrow-minded people in society today. Their reactions to the idea that anyone might think differently to them range from gut-wrenching despair to pure hatred of the kind seen in the most fanatical of ‘true believers’. White liberals are, by and large, incapable of serious adult debate (preferring innuendo and accusations of bigotry), or of dealing with the fact that not everyone will agree with them (despite their supposed love of pluralism and a multiplicity of different ‘voices’), and tend to see any view which deviates from their cultic leftist script as a form of irredeemable moral evil. White liberals do not base their world-view on rational analysis and sensible argument, but instead on an almost religious faith that they possess the ‘truth’, and just as we see in so many fundamentalist religious cults and sects, the devotees of the white liberal faith burn with hatred for the ‘sin’ that surrounds them, and indeed, all too often for the ‘sinners’ themselves. White liberals, who are the intellectual equivalent of stroppy, rebellious teenagers, have sought to subvert and undermine Western civilisation, and some offer support for authoritarian and even terrorist movements as part of their attack on ‘racism’ and ‘colonialism’.
White liberals approach issues of race and racism from an essentially irrational, moralistic standpoint. White liberals do not simply judge racism to be based on bad thinking and criticise it for its illogical collectivism. Instead, white liberals make the issue of racism, as with other issues, all about them. White liberals have colonised the discourse of racism and anti-racism because it offers them an opportunity to boast of the superiority of their virtue and to demonstrate their purity and holiness through ostentatious and vacuous public displays of self-flagellation. Just as early Christianity imbued adherents with a deep sense of guilt and sinfulness, so the white liberal finds in reflecting on the history of white racism the opportunity to both revel in the guilt of the sinner and to make atonement through ‘anti-racist’ initiatives, thereby offering them the opportunity to further present themselves as a holy elite tasked with saving the world. And just as at various points in the history of Christianity an overarching sense of guilt derived from an intense awareness of, and obsession with, the supposedly inherent sinfulness of human beings and of the ‘world’ led ‘holy’ men and women to conclude that the path to holiness is found in the hatred of self, world, and the human condition, white liberals indulge in a form of self-hatred which is designed to project the image of penitence and sanctity, while actually being transparently pretentious, self-aggrandising, and destructive. (Edmund Standing)
I hope that it goes without saying that “white liberals” encompass a far wider variation of views than described by Mr. Standing, but his point is that it is the thought process of that particular variety of the “white liberal” that has defined American policy and shaped media thought for the past two decades.
With this backdrop we now have reached the point where the accusation of racism has reached fever pitch and is now used as a debate stopping accusation regardless of whether the accusation is justified. “You are a racist” has become the Politically Correct’s greatest weapon. It makes politicians quake in their boots, it kills sensible discussion stone dead. Losing the argument? – call your opponent a racist – that slur will usually silence them. Nowhere has this form of attack been more clearly seen than in the governance and campaigns of President Obama. Now this may come as a shock to you, but President Obama is black – the first black man elected President. That fact only matters to people it matters to. Most of us couldn’t care less. But racists and liberals care deeply. Racists, real racists, are so insignificant now as to not matter. The days of them mattering died sometime after Democrats lost the South. Bull Connor, George Wallace and others died off, and the world is a better place for it. What was supposed to follow the death of that idiotic mentality was the world Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned, in which people are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
When Rush Limbaugh used it in reference to the Obama administration, liberals were beside themselves. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said, “I’ve never seen language like this in the American press…The use of the word ‘regime’ in American political parlance is unacceptable, and someone should tell [Limbaugh] to stop using it.” The only problem for Matthews, as Byron York pointed out, is “A quick search of the Nexis database revealed more than 6,500 uses of the word “regime” to refer to the Bush administration since January 20, 2001, in the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, and, yes, by Chris Matthews himself.” What else has been called racist code? “Angry,” “Chicago,” “Constitution,” “Experienced,” Food Stamp President,” “Golf,” “Kitchen Cabinet,” and many others.
Interestingly, this debate was taken to a new level just last week when Dr. Benjamin Carson from Johns Hopkins delivered a moving speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in which he voiced concern about the national debt and argued the case for a flat tax, using the Bible’s injunction to tithe a set percentage, and for health-savings accounts, a medical option that has gained currency among conservatives. Crucially, he delivered this speech from a podium just feet from President Obama, who of course oversaw the passage of a very different health-care plan and has been a major proponent of progressive taxation. Obama, as he often does, remained somewhere between impassive and bored-looking. It’s fair to say he didn’t seem to be enjoying himself. For those of you that missed it, here is that speech.
David Graham of the Atlantic capsulized the squirming media’s reaction to Dr. Carson’s speech best when he said:
Though many commentaries have tried tiptoe around it, it’s impossible to pretend there’s no racial dimension involved in a successful black conservative castigating the liberal black president. Black conservatives remain fascinating to Americans of all political persuasions and ethnicities; look no further than Herman Cain’s presidential campaign. And in the age of Obama — when many on the right feel that any criticism of the president is liable to draw undeserved claims of racism — a champion for the cause who can sidestep that retort is sure to be welcomed. Jonah Goldberg came closest to addressing this question, likening Carson to Booker T. Washington. (Atlantic)
Unable to use the “racist” tag, CNN still managed to convene a panel that largely attacked Dr. Carson and his temerity to speak the truth in front of the President as “offensive:”
Kyle Becker provided excellent insight into race and the media:
“One would think the “America is racist” narrative would eventually become extinct, after such exemplary minorities as President Obama and Dr. Benjamin Carson, among countless other minorities, have shown that talent, hard work, and determination can overcome the ignorance of the remaining bigots. And one would think the model of the American dream, born of freedom, hard work and responsibility, would eventually sink in, even on the delusional left.
Apparently not. What is truly “offensive” is a bunch of political hacks who pretended that all criticism of the president before his two elections was motivated by racist animosity; and those who proposed a different course of fiscal responsibility and self-reliance were inherently bigots.
This is a hypocritical group, the race-baiting lefties who attack members of the minority who have a different point-of-view; and the people throwing in lot with these smear merchants are the ones who are truly “offensive.” What’s not “offensive” — the speech of an honorable pediatric neurosurgeon who had the gall to tell the president what’s wrong with his failing policies.” (Independent Journal Review)
I just dream that we could return to the goals and objectives of Dr. King and eliminate race as an issue rather than making racial differences the centerpiece for policy.